Upcoming iOS & Android Games 201927 Sep 2019 24
The mobile gamer can look back at 2018 with an affectionate and misty eye, secure in the knowledge that gaming on mobile devices gets more diverse, sophisticated and polished with each year. In this respect, 2019 has also proven to be a banner year on this front and it shows no signs of stopping now.
Roughly speaking, the most exciting upcoming games can be split into three groups: the name-brand megahits-in-waiting, boardgame adaptations, and indie projects. Read on to see what the who’s who of mobile gaming are cooking up for this year’s treats.
- Eve Echoes had a Closed Alpha at the end of August, although we're not sure if the game is looking at a general 2019 release. Probably not. We suspect this new mobile game will replace the previous project we've been expecting, War of Ascension, mentioned below.
- League of Legends Mobile - Riot are another company trying to port their heavy-hitter game to mobile. We've only had vague reports so far, and we're not even sure it's coming out this year, so it gets a quick mention for now pending further information.
- We've removed Scythe from the list because Asmodee seem to be less involved in mobile this year then they were the year before, and Terraforming Mars hasn't even made it onto mobile yet.
Upcoming Mobile Games 2020
- Commandos 2, which was originally in the main list below, has slipped to 2020 on mobile. It's still due out on PC this year but speaking to the devs at GamesCom, they're probably not going to even start testing on mobile until the New Year so we've still got some time to wait yet.
- Homeworld Mobile was announced at the same time as Homeworld 3. We're only guessing at a 2020 release here, but it's within the realms of possibility.
Company of Heroes (WW2 Tactical RTS)
We don't deserve Feral Interactive, quite frankly. In a sea of games fighting and struggling against the whims of mobile gamers and business models, here's a company that decided to just get really good at porting things to iOS, and at the same time decided to get really chummy with companies like SEGA. This is the company that's brought us Rome: Total War and Tropico to tablets and phones... and now they're bringing us that most sacred of strategy games, Company of Heroes.
The gold standard of squad-based real-time tactical strategy gaming, and they're just casually bringing it to your handheld device likes it's no big deal. We don't know much about it, at this point, other than it's due in the 'Fall'. It's only coming to iPad to start with, as is their tradition with most of their ports. It will also be premium, with no IAPs, and just include the base game content for starters.
Call of Duty Mobile (Shooter/Battle Royale)
Announced at GDC 2019, this new Call of Duty-on-mobile spin-off is the latest in a long series of mobile adaptations of the hugely popular FPS franchise. Activision's next attempt appears to be following in the vein of games like Fortnite & ARK - offering a fully 3D, fully-developed version of the main franchise that can run on phones and tablets.
From what we know so far, it's going to be a kind of 'greatest hits' compilation of modes, maps, characters etc... and may even feature a Battle Royale mode (putting it in direct competition with Fortnite, which is popular on mobile as well as desktop). This is the next game on the list to release, and you'll be able to get your hands on it come October 1st, 2019.
GWENT: The Witcher Card Game (Card Game)
One can never have too many card games in their lives, or at least, that's what the makers of all of the Hearthstone wannabes like to tell themselves every night before going to sleep. GWENT started life a a mini-game within The Witcher 3, but it proved so popular CDPR decided to spin it to create their own take on a digital card game. It's been out on PC for a little while already, although we're not sure how well it's performing vs. the other giants in this space.
The mobile version has been expected for a while, and now we finally have a release date of October 29th, 2019. It'll definitely be interesting to see what happens - Hearthstone's reign is fading, but there's yet to be a real successor that can confidently claim the crown... maybe it'll be this one, maybe not.
Football Manager 2020 Touch & Mobile (Sport Management/Sim)
Another year, another round of Football Manager games. The FM 2020 series is going to be launching on PC and Mobile all at the same time, with the mobile offerings once again being split into Football Manager 2020 Mobile, which is a stripped down version of the game that works on phones, and Football Manager 2020 Touch which is the PC version ported to tablets. Not much more to say on this one, other than the release is planned for November, currently.
Minecraft Earth (AR)
It seems 2019 is the year people finally try and jump on to the Pokemon GO craze. It's only been three year! Minecraft Earth is Microsoft & Mojang's answer to the likes of Ingress Prime and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Different from the existing Minecraft experience on mobile, this AR-fuelled game comes with a number of key concepts. First and foremost, people can explore the world in real-life, checking into locations on their phone much like how Pokestops work. These locations net them resources which can be used in the building mode, which is reported to be just as free-form as the original game. Finally, those constructions can then be placed in the real-world, so anyone with their phone can explore and interact with them.
This seems like a pretty decent marriage of Pokemon GO-style AR and a popular IP. Say what you want about Microsoft, none of their various Minecraft versions have felt like cynical cash-ins, so it'll be interesting to see how this one turns out. It's currently running a closed beta test that is rolling out to more and more people over time, but we're not sure when a full release is planned yet.
Xenowerk Tactics (RTS)
From the people who brought you Space Marshal comes a new RTS called Xenowerk Tactics. We don't know a hell of a lot about it at this point. It's due to be coming "this year", it will be a premium game and it will be releasing on iOS and Android, but that's about it. It's described as a "pre-apocalyptic RTS-like, mutant blasting game with exploration and strategy elements." Such a vague release window could still mean we don't see this until next year, but there's still plenty of time for pixelbite to get this out the door, so who knows.
Phantom Doctrine (Turn-based Strategy)
Another one a few of us here are really looking forward to. Phantom Doctrine was an attempt to make an XCOM-like game set during the Cold War. You run an international spy agency and you must train up your agents, develop their cover and embed them in locations, as well as engaging in other acts of espionage and intrigue. There's a 'base/strategic' part, and then a turn-based tactical part. What stops this from just being a token nod towards Bond-style espionage is that most turn-based tactical battles can start off peacefully, and even end without a shot being fired provided you do your job well enough.
It's pretty good, although it was a bit glitchy when it first launched, but provided how well XCOM fits on tablet and mobile, I have no doubt the mobile version of Phantom Doctrine is going to be right up our alley. Considering there was no word of an actual release window, perhaps a 2019 release is a bit ambitious but what the heck, we're excited!
Tom Clancy's Elite Squad (Collectable RPG/Battler Thing)
Not sure if this is turn-based or real-time thing - there's not much information beyond the E3 2019 trailer. Ubisoft will be offering players the chance to assemble a 5-person squad with characters from across their franchises, where you need to collect and upgrade characters and fight in 5v5 battles against either the AI or other players. There's going to be a single-player story + guild vs. guild warfare.
No release date, but pre-registration is already live so I'm expecting at least a beta or something this year, with perhaps the full release early next year if not by Christmas. I stand by what I said when we originally reported on this though - I think Ubisoft are missing a trick by not making this an Auto Chess game.
Game of Thrones: Beyond the Wall (As Above)
Behavoir Interactive (them what made Fallout Shelter) had their own announcement as this year's E3. In the same vein as Ubisoft's Elite Squad, BE are working with HBO on Beyond the Wall, another RPG/Strategy/Squad Battler thing. Usually, separate new games sharing the same basic DNA signifies an emerging trend but, again, I think the guys have completely missed the fact that Auto Chess is happening.
Still, all the parts are there to make this a potentially compelling experience - you've got to recruit people into the Night's Watch, go on rangings beyond the Wall and defend said Wall from wildlings. This trying to cash-in on the recently finished television show, there will be some magical based mumbo-jumbo reason to recruit, or collect, famous people from the TV series as well (this game is officially set half a decade before Book 1, so you can imagine there'll be a bit creative license going on here). Pre-registration is live on both iOS & Android, so hopefully we'll learn more about this soon.
Final Fantasy (Tactical RPG)
We're lumping two Final Fantasy games into one entry because there's not much to say on them at the moment. At E3 it was announced that Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicle's Remaster will also be hitting tablets and smartphones. We're expecting that to drop in the Winter. Here's the trailer:
Meanwhile, Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius is getting a tactical RPG spin-off, War of the Visions. We're not 100% on details or release window yet, but it's also got a trailer:
Out of the Park GO! (Sports/Management)
While not the all-father of sports sims that is Football Manager, the OOTP Baseball series holds just a firm a place in baseball fans hearts. The mobile incarnation of OOTP has been a series of games called MLB Manager, the most recent of which we reviewed last year. It seems the developer is starting from scratch for the next iteration, even re-branding it to become OOTP GO! Here's what they have to say about it:
OOTP Go! will be free to play, which includes full access to Perfect Team and the ability to create and play fictional solo leagues. The current MLB rosters are a $4.99 in-app purchase, international leagues will be $1.99 each and historical MLB seasons will be (as usual) $0.99 (plus there will be bundles available for a reduced price).
Last thing we heard a public beta for it was due to start soon, so we'll be amazed if it still manages to release this year. Coming to both iOS & Android.
Dire Wolf Digital (Board Game)
This isn't the name of a game, but the name of a company that announced this year they're making a bucket-load of digital board game adaptations. Because we only have the announcement text to go on, we've decided to keep the new games all in one place until we know more. The company recently released their first offering from the list, Raiders of the North Sea, at the end of July. We're not sure if they'll be able to release many more before the year is out, but here's the remaining ports they have on their slate:
- Mage Knights – It's worth noting this is the first step in a bigger agreement with WizKids, so it's likely we'll be seeing more announcements this year.
- Wings of Glory – A popular table-top aerial skirmish game.
- Yellow & Yangtze – a Reiner Knizia tile placement game of civilization building.
- Sagrada – A dice drafting game about creating works of art.
- Root – the recent Kickstarter sensation about asymmetrical warfare in the woods.
We'll update as we learn more.
Diablo Immortal (Action RPG)
Diablo Immortal will draw some side-eye and mockery, having been already made notorious because of its horribly mistimed announcement. (Yes, we have phones, but read the room, Activision-Blizzard). Even more puzzlingly, the game is being created in partnership with NetEase, a Chinese developer whose resume already includes ‘Eternal Realm’ (无尽神域) itself essentially a Diablo clone. Weird stuff: the official license merging with a pretender to the throne to make a hybrid project together. Concerns about endless grind or re-skinning of Eternal Realm are well-founded, but while most of us will be as judge-y as possible we’ll also probably still give the final product a try. Good action RPGs live or die by loot, character progression and above all, delicate-yet-accurate controls, so it will be interesting to see if Diablo Immortal will be a good game as well as the inevitable cash cow.
We thought we'd have heard something about this game by now following its announcement last year. The silence doesn't mean the project is cancelled, of course, but it could mean this will slip to the 2020 list.
Terraforming Mars (Boardgame)
Terraforming Mars sounds like a noble goal for all of humanity. In reality, the game is a push-and-pull competition for corporations to garner by prestige by...terraforming Mars. Three categories: oxygen, temperature and ocean coverage dictate the endgame, but to get there, players will reshape the red planet into a bright blue hope. It’s a Euro though-and-though: precisely balanced, intricately co-dependent and inevitably point-based. But the close match between theme and mechanic makes this game deeply satisfying and intuitive to learn and explain, and the action selection mechanic is uniquely innovative and inspired. Just when I think boardgame design is tapped out, something truly exceptional rises to the top.
A limited beta was in progress on mobile, but then the developer went bankrupt. Last we heard Asmodee Digital have retained the rights and assets to the mobile version so hopefully they'll be able to get a new developer on board sharpish. Whether we see this by the end of the year though is anyone's guess.
Impossible Bottles (Rhythm/Action)
Various robots move about in their bottles and raging about like a bull in a china shop. Each level presents one of these Impossible Bottles for the player to fix by manipulating the environment and repairing the situation, or at the very least soothing its sole occupant. A scientist built these robots as part of a perpetual motion machine for unlimited energy, but they don’t quite work as is. The secret to fixing everything is music, or in gameplay terms: rhythm.
One-touch gameplay and lush, fantastic art: it was slated with a mid-year release which obviously hasn't happened yet, and we've yet to hear anything else about it.
Heaven’s Vault (Interactive Fiction)
We're not sure what's going on with Inkle's of 80 Days interactive fiction fame) newest game Heaven’s Vault. It's currently available on Steam and Playstation, and a Switch version is planned for 2020. As for mobile? Who knows. I've been worrying that the Switch is stealing some mobile ports, although you never know - Apple Arcade might change that now.
An archaeologist-slash-xenolinguist explores the dusty remains of an alien civilization on an unknown planet, with a vivid backdrop of sienna sand and celestial blue. There’s some pretty nifty procedural tricks behind the code-breaking and translation, and while its approach to storytelling is a little less handcrafted, it has the potential to have even more surprises and replayability than the globe-trotting 80 Days.
Other Missing Games From 2018
As a reminder, here is a quick list of some other games we were expecting last year, but never turned up on mobile:
- Bad North (RTS) (Out now on PC & Switch)
- Exodus: Proxima Centauri (Boardgame)
- Epic Card Game (Card Game)
- Lord of the Rings Living Card Game (Card Game) (Out now on PC)
- Monster Slayers (Card Game)
- EVE: War of Ascension (MMO) (Possibly replaced by EVE: Echoes?)
Best iOS & Android Games of 2019 (So Far)
There's already been some excellent releases this year, and not all of them were expected/on this list. If you haven't already, check these games out:
- Raiders of the North Sea (Board Game)
- Santorini (Board Game)
- Astrologaster (??)
- Tharsis (Turn-Based Strategy)
- Shards of Infinity (Card Game)
- Fort Sumter (Boardgame)
- Dungeon Warfare 2 (RTS)
- Cultist Simulator (Card Game/Sim)
- Necrodancer AMPLIFIED (Roguelike)
- The Castles of Burgundy (Boardgame)
- Star Traders: Frontiers (RPG)
- Legends of Andor (Boardgame)
- Evolution: The Video Game (Boardgame)
- The Escapists 2: Pocket Breakout (Simulation)
Seen any other games coming out this year you're excited about? Let us know in the comments.